We have two more roundtable discussions to go and they are the most important in my opinion. We’ll start with the top offensive needs for the Denver Broncos heading into this offseason. If Sean Payton is looking to get back into playoff contention, he has some important roster improvements to make.
I didn’t give anyone a limit, so it just comes down to what we all felt were our top needs heading into this offseason. I didn’t add any, because I feel like nothing matters until Denver finds a legitimate franchise quarterback that can help carry the team through hard times or close games. Everything else is just whatever until that problem is solved.
Here’s where the rest of our Mile High Report staff landed on this list.
- OL depth/Center
- Difference maker at RB
Quarterback is the number one need and by far the biggest need on offense for the Broncos. We have seen them miss out, not be aggressive, or pass up on the position ever since Peyton Manning retired. Now, with Sean Payton running the show, I think they’ll take a big swing at the position this offseason.
Playmakers are needed on offense. Whether that be at WR, RB, or TE, it is needed across the board. The offense lacks depth and relies on painfully average players in key roles.
Thankfully, the Broncos were blessed with good health along the o-line, but the depth there is spotty at best, so adding some talent there would be ideal. Center could be a need but it all depends on how the team feels about rookie seventh-round pick Alex Forsyth who did not play a single snap this past season.
Running back for me is a big need. Javonte Williams was not good and averaged just 3.6 yards per carry. He is a physical runner but is he a starter? Not with production like that. We’ll see if third down specialist Samaje Perine comes back and UDFA Jaleel McLaughlin impressed this year, but may just be a change-of-pace guy. With a rookie or bridge at QB, you’ll need a strong run game and I don’t think they have that right now with the current room.
- Wide receivers
- An every-down running back
When it comes to quarterback, I’m pretty open to a few things that the Broncos can do, but they all center around drafting a quarterback. They can keep Russell Wilson around, sign a free agent like Gardner Minshew or Baker Mayfield, or they can start whatever rookie they get. They just need to draft someone this year. No other option will really prepare them for the future.
I’m not sure what the WR room will look like next year. I’m expecting them to keep Courtland Sutton around, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they dealt Jerry Jeudy and/ or Tim Patrick. There’s good talent in the draft this year to fill those gaps.
I really want Javonte Williams to return to form. Like most of us, I love him and the way he played before the knee injury. I’m hoping this is a need that works itself out and he returns to form. Besides him though, I was happy with what they got out of Jaleel McLaughlin, and even what they got out of Samaje Perine. I think it’s currently a “good” backfield that needs to be “great”.
- Left Tackle
- Wide Receiver
Feel free to imagine a massive gap between QB and all the rest. Whether your roster is talent-poor or overflowing with talent, you’re playing long odds at best if the QB situation isn’t figured out. Getting a QB (or two, one FA & one drafted) that Sean Payton thinks he can maximize is easily the most crucial element of this offseason.
Beyond that, left tackle Garett Bolles is entering the final year of his contract and faces an uncertain future with the team despite bringing quality play this year. Future cap space requires present planning. And it’s past time for the team to invest some draft picks in the position- Bolles himself is the most recent player Denver drafted to play offensive tackle, all the way back in 2017. I’ll understand if the Pa/ytons extend him, though- left tackle is an important offensive building block.
Cushenberry at center and the various wide receivers also fall into the box of potential cap casualties- you simply can’t pay everyone. Nor should we. The WR room in particular is among the most expensive and most underperforming units in the league. Expect to see Jeudy traded, Patrick either cut or retained on a heavily adjusted contract, and new guys brought in to compete.
Russell Wilson isn’t the guy, and he limits the Sean Payton playbook. Unfortunately, the team turned nightmare into reality when they played good enough to win some big games but not enough to make the playoffs and too many to draft a franchise QB. The team could trade up, of course, but it will need to really shuffle the roster to acquire trade assets. Regardless, a rookie or placeholder FA should be the guy. Payton likes Stidham, but it’s hard to see the team going far with him.
As for WR, while Wilson deserves criticism for not seeing the field and missing open WRs all season, it’s still evident Jerry Jeudy did very little, and the team needs more than just Courtland Sutton. Marvin Mims showed flashes but the team needs a true #1 WR.
Greg Dulcich was supposed to be a difference maker at tight end, but the guy just can’t stay healthy. Adam Troutman was serviceable but the offense could really use a reliable pass catching threat and difference maker at the spot. If Brock Bowers is available, the team might just jump at him.
Javonte Williams was admirable bouncing back from a gruesome injury, but he didn’t ever establish a reputation of an every down back or even a true RB1. Samaje Perine was solid in pass protection and as a receiving threat but isn’t a danger taking handoffs, and while Jaleel McLaughlin is a home run threat in the open field, finding space to get him there at his size is easier said than done. Another body added to the competition could elevate the offense in a meaningful way.
- Offensive Line
With Russell Wilson on his way out, the Denver Broncos will be in pursuit of a new signal caller for the 2024 season. It’s undoubtedly their biggest need. I would expect them to do a low-tier free agent signing as well as drafting a prospect in the upcoming NFL Draft. Sean Payton is going to want to get a rookie in there to learn his system sooner than later.
Like Scotty had mentioned, the Broncos are in need of playmakers at virtually every position. I fully expect major changes to their wide receiving corps. They could use another back via the draft and definitely need a legitimate tight end as well. Take a look at what the Green Bay Packers did the past two drafts to surround Jordan Love with talent. If Denver drafts a QB, they have to find pieces around him to help make him successful. Alas, the Broncos only have six picks and are short a second rounder, so that’s going to be tough to do in just one offseason.
The Broncos need to add to their offensive line. It’s unlikely they will be able to re-sign Lloyd Cushenberry III, so they might look in-house to replace him with either Luke Wattenberg or Alex Forsyth. That being said, Garett Bolles is in the last year of his contract and the franchise doesn’t have a developmental left tackle in the fold. If I were in charge of the draft, getting a top-flight OT at #12 would be under heavy consideration. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea for them to try and sign a versatile OG/C in free agency either for depth purposes.